|Celtics’ 10-man rotation set to create some odd men out||10.15.16 at 12:15 pm ET|
Prior to Thursday night’s game, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens made an announcement that wasn’t so much surprising, rather thought-provoking.
“Ten (players) is what we usually play at the start of the season,” Stevens said. “It could be eight to ten, nine to ten.”
“Anytime you can get to a solid eight or nine in a rotation, that’s beneficial.”
That is conceivably going to leave a valuable asset out of the rotation. With his starting lineup of Al Horford, Amir Johnson, Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas all but in ink, there would be two to four players vying for minutes.
Marcus Smart will also be a lock as the first man off the bench — as Stevens has often referred to him as a “sixth starter.” Once healthy, Kelly Olynyk will likely be in the same situation.
There is some fluidity after that, however.
Stevens did note that his rotation can, and likely will, change on a game-to-game basis.
“We have to have everybody ready to go,” said Stevens who added, “and some days it’ll be a solid eight plus 2 (players) but that plus 2 may change game to game depending on who we’re playing, how they played against them, how they played in practice, how they played the game before.”
With the summer league and preseason that Terry Rozier has had, reasonable minds can believe he would be in the rotation. However, ball handling and distribution are two things you could essentially get out of Smart, plus he would provide better defense. In an event where the Celtics are going to need to attempt to matchup in height with opposing teams, Rozier could see himself squeezed out of the rotation.
Then there’s Jaylen Brown. The rookie is a fascinating case because if he’s not going to be in the rotation, then he would be better suited playing in the D-League, which is not exactly the best PR move for a team’s No. 3 pick in the draft. That aside, however, he’s proven that his game has translated well to the NBA and the Celtics could definitely use his athleticism.
Jonas Jerebko is a perplexing case as well. Seemingly every time he appears to be falling out of Stevens’ good graces, he pops a 12-point performance off the bench, as he did Thursday (and lest we forget the 2016 postseason, as well). His problem, however, is that he’ll be more or less absent for stretches, and when his shot from 15-to 18-feet is off, he can render himself useless on the offensive end.
Bottom line, Stevens knows what he’s getting with Jerebko. He doesn’t have to worry about developing him, he’s a slightly above-average defender, who has a shot that can be lethal when it’s on. It’s hard to imagine him being phased out of the rotation — especially early on in the season — but it’s a legitimate possibility if he hits a cold streak.
Another veteran in a precarious position is Gerald Green. Green didn’t even see the floor until about five and a half minutes remained in the third quarter Thursday. There are too many enticing options at Stevens’ disposal to allow Green to get meaningful minutes. Conversely, he posesses one of the biggest tools the Celtics as a whole lack: a shot. However, he’s yet to exhibit any reliability as a shooter in his two preseason appearances, going a combined 0-for-4 from deep. He’s otherwise 9-from-20 from the field. He is the type of player destined to be the first man out, especially when his shot is cold.
Tyler Zeller hasn’t exactly had a camp to remember thus far. And with his history of fluctuating minutes, it already looks as if he’s destined for the same scenario as 2015-16, where he could be playing three minutes one night, but 18 the other.
One player that is making more of a case for himself is Jordan Mickey. A big leader in the late surge that pushed the Celtics bench past the Nets on Thursday, Mickey has started to look much more acclimated to the NBA than last year, even after tearing up the D-League. He may be an afterthought to start the season, but the amount of meaningful minutes he may get could certainly increase.
It should all come down to matchups. Stevens isn’t afraid to play small, and there is enough diversity in skill amongst bench players to where he has a quality arsenal to work with. As camp continues and more players begin to establish — or hurt — their value, the rotation should begin to take more of a shape, with some understandable flexibility taking place as well.
|Celtics Player Preview: Tyler Zeller||09.24.16 at 10:07 am ET|
With Celtics training camp set to begin on Sept. 26, WEEI.com presents a player-by-player breakdown of the roster. The Celtics have 20 players under contract but will have to cut the roster to 15 by the start of the season.
60 games with Celtics: 11.8 minutes, 6.1 points, 47.6% FG, 3.0 rebounds
Zeller saw his minutes cut in half last season but made the best of his situation by stepping up in moments when the Celtics needed him. After losing his starting job to Amir Johnson, Zeller saw his role further diminished as Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger shared minutes at the center spot. But Zeller did have a few memorable performances. In a 124-109 win over the Bucks in early April — a game with playoff implications — Zeller had his best game of the season, finishing with 26 points on 9-of-15 shots and four blocks. It proved to Stevens that he always has a backup plan in Zeller — a player who can score in double figures on any given night.
Projected role in 2016-17
Behind Al Horford, Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk, there aren’t a whole lot of minutes for Zeller this season. However, when opportunities are present Zeller will provide instant offense. There’s a reason the Celtics signed him to a two-year, $16 million deal this past summer. He may be an insurance policy for Johnson and Olynyk (who is expected to miss the start of the regular season after having surgery on his right shoulder) but that doesn’t mean he’s incapable of taking on big minutes. There just aren’t enough minutes for Zeller. His offense is inferior to Olynyk’s and Johnson is a much better defender — thus making Zeller the Celtics’ third-string center this season.
|Brad Stevens ‘putting the pieces together’ for upcoming season||09.08.16 at 12:39 pm ET|
Despite the seemingly constant drama surrounding the Celtics this offseason, head coach Brad Stevens has been surprisingly quiet. At the ABCD Hoops for Hope event at the TD Garden on Tuesday, Stevens opened up about a number of things that defined this offseason.
And though he’s been quiet, it hasn’t stopped him from planning constantly and paying mind to the outlook of the upcoming season.
“I think as a coach, you get away a little bit, but at some point you’re antsy to get back at it,” Stevens told reporters. “So maybe re-writing the third version of what you’re doing? I don’t know. You think about it all year. I’m just going to be ready for September 27th. Ever since the end of July I’ve had a pretty good idea of what we’re going to look like as a team and who’s going to help us in what way. It’s just a matter now of putting the pieces together and hopefully playing well”
The Celtics that fell in the first round of the 2016 postseason, though similar, will have some major changes. There was the addition of big man Al Horford, former Celtic Gerald Green, as well as No. 3 draft pick Jaylen Brown.
With such additions, there’s been incessant changes to the outlook of the roster and thus the approach the team will have to take.
“I think you’re always tweaking and changing and you’re always making adjustments,” he said, “But I think you have to put a lot of time and thought into what your new guys have done well, how that plays within what you’ve done or if you need to change some of what you’ve done to fit them better. You go through that, and you make sure you come up with a plan that fits everybody the best to bring out all of their best strengths.”
Defense was never an issue for the Celtics in 2015-16.
|Celtics make Jaylen Brown, 4 other signings official||07.28.16 at 3:26 pm ET|
Wednesday evening the Celtics made five deals official — most notably the signing of No. 3 overall pick Jaylen Brown. Nearly all of the signings were previously reported, however were not made official by the team until Wednesday.
Though the terms of the deal were not disclosed, Brown is expected to be a big part of the Celtics immediate future, Brown was immediately a scoring threat during the summer league, averaging 16 points per game over 29 minutes. He also added 6.2 rebounds per game as well as 2.3 assists.
In his Pac-12 Freshman of the Year-winning 2015-16 campaign, the 6-foot-7 19-year-old averaged 14.6 points and 5.4 boards over 27.6 minutes per game.
Also signed from the draft were second-round picks Demetrius Jackson and Ben Bentil — deals that had been agreed upon earlier on Wednesday.
The two remaining deals included the re-upping of big man Tyler Zeller, as well as the return of Gerald Green, both of whom have agreed to deals, as WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia reported on Saturday.
The signings now set the Celtics roster at 18, leaving an interesting training camp ahead that will see three players not make the NBA roster.
|Source: Celtics to re-sign Tyler Zeller (2 years, $16 million), ink Gerald Green (1 year, $1.5 million)||07.23.16 at 3:26 pm ET|
The Celtics are trying to make the best of what’s left of the free agent market.
League sources confirmed Saturday to WEEI.com that the team will re-sign 26-year-old center Tyler Zeller for two years and $16 million, with the second year consisting of a team option. The news was first reported by the Boston Herald and later by ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.
The Celtics are following through on their intentions after extending a $3.7 million qualifying offer in June to Zeller, who like Jared Sullinger was a restricted free agent.
Sullinger left for bigger money in Toronto.
Zeller, the 17th overall pick of the Mavericks (traded to Cleveland) in the 2012 draft, appeared in 60 games for the Celtics this season, just a season after starting 59. Zeller averaged 6.1 points and 3 rebounds over 11.8 minutes per game last season.
The Celtics are also going back to the future and signing 30-year-old Gerald Green. A league source confirms that Green and the team have agreed on a one-year deal for the league veteran minimum of $1.5 million, as reported by Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe.
Green was the No. 18 overall pick of the Celtics in the 2005 NBA draft. He played his first two seasons with Boston before being dealt to the Timberwolves as part of the Kevin Garnett deal in 2007. Green averaged 8.9 points per game in 69 games for the Heat last season, including 14 games as a starter.
Green, entering his 10th season, was a productive sixth man for the Heat in the first half of the season but mysteriously fell off and played little down the stretch and in the playoffs against Charlotte and Toronto. Green indicated publicly he had hoped to return to Miami. Green is a career 36.1 percent shooter from 3-point range. During the 2013-14 season with the Suns, Green shot a remarkable 40 percent on a career-high 510 attempts.
Per a league a source, the signings of Zeller and Green appear to be a “fall-back” position for the Celtics, should they want to enter the season with the roster they have constructed. There is still the possibility that these pieces, along with others, could be used in trades down the road, like for Jahlil Okafor of Philadelphia. Both the Herald and Globe have indicated from sources that it’s more likely than not that the roster will definitely be adjusted significantly before the start of camp in late September.
The roster, after these two signings, will be at 17, including the non-guaranteed contract of John Holland and the guaranteed deal of No. 3 overall pick Jaylen Brown. The team must cut to 15 players by the start of the season. The Celtics already have freed up the spaces of Guerschon Yabusele and Ante Zizic, both of whom will play overseas next season.
|Celtics renounce Jared Sullinger’s qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent||07.10.16 at 1:53 pm ET|
It appears as though the Jared Sullinger era is drawing to a close in Boston.
The Celtics backtracked on the qualifying offer they made the 24-year-old big man, renouncing the offer and making him an unrestricted free agent. He’s now able to sign with any team. The decision by the Celtics was first reported by RealGM’s Keith Smith.
Taken No. 21 overall by the Celtics in the 2012 draft, the Sullinger era was a tumultuous one in Boston to say the least. At times, he was a valuable body in the low post who could occasionally shoot from the perimeter, and other times — this past postseason against the Hawks — was totally absent.
This season he averaged 10.3 points per game with 8.3 rebounds, with the latter being a career high for him.
At 6-foot-9, 260 pounds, Sullinger’s time in Boston was often characterized by his big frame, in which he was constantly overweight and out of shape and often possessed a poor, lazy attitude at multiple points, leading to him being benched.
Sullinger was originally offered a qualifying offer alongside Tyler Zeller on June 29, with Sullinger’s being valued at $3,695,169. The decision to renounce the qualifying offer will create needed cap space in the aftermath of the Al Horford signing.
Sullinger could still sign with the Celtics, but in light of the decision made today, the C’s would be offering much lower than what he’s is looking for.
|Report: Celtics to extend qualifying offers to Jared Sullinger, Tyler Zeller||06.30.16 at 10:57 am ET|
Kevin Durant may be the prize, and Dwight Howard an intriguing possibility, but the Celtics aren’t taking any piece of their roster for granted.
To that end, they plan to offer qualifying offers to big men Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller. Per Steve Bulpett of the Herald:
According to league-related sources, Celts to give qualifying offers to Jared Sullinger & Tyler Zeller, making them restricted free agents.
— Steve Bulpett (@SteveBHoop) June 29, 2016
Qualifying offers must be made by Thursday, and extending them allows the Celtics to match any offer sheet Zeller and/or Sullinger sign in restricted free agency. Otherwise, they would’ve become unrestricted free agents.
Sullinger’s offer will be for $4,433,683, while Zeller’s one-year offer is for $3,695,169, according to the Herald.
Sullinger averaged 10.3 points and 8.3 rebounds this year, though he was ineffective against the Hawks in the playoffs. Zeller averaged 6.1 points and 3.0 rebounds, falling out of Brad Stevens’ rotation at times.
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